March Madness 2011 Bracket Predictions

Note: This post is from 2011!!!

Click to see our official bracket for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

As Michael Jackson and his brothers once sang, “Can you feel it? Can you feeeel it? CAN YOU FEEL IT!?” I am speaking, of course, about the 2011 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament, which is always my favorite time of the sports year.

The excitement gets amped up during the final few weeks of the regular season, kicks into high gear during Championship Week, and then crescendos with three weeks of sports ecstasy once the brackets are announced on Selection Sunday. (Yeah, I’m kind of a college basketball nut.)

And there is nothing I get more ecstatic about during March Madness than making my bracket predictions.

march-madness-2011 bracket predictions picks
My picks used to be very subjective and based far more on what my heart told me than what my head told me. Thus, I would always pick Indiana to go further than I probably should, I’d always pick Purdue to lose in the 1st round on principle, and I generally let factors other than who I actually thought was the best team influence my picks. Not that it mattered. I didn’t run a website back then, and I don’t enter tourney pools for money, so filling out my bracket was more for fun than anything else.

But once I started MSF, and achieved the honor and responsibility of a consistent reader base, that all changed*. Starting in 2009 I decided that I would completely switch gears and seek out some sort of objective, stat-based method for making my annual bracket picks. If I was going to post them here, I wanted to be able to defend my selections and offer a reasonable March Madness voice that people could use as they made their own picks.

* – in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that this stark change also coincided with Indiana beginning its current 3-year run of missing the NCAA Tournament, which has meant I have not had to face the prospect of picking their game(s) objectively. I really, really, really hope I get to have that challenge again next season. Philosophies will collide…

In 2009, my March Madness bracket predictions went pretty well considering the general randomness inherent in picking the bracket. My system:

  • correctly picked 72% of the first round game;
  • correctly picked 45 out of the 64 possible bracket spots (70.3%), and;
  • correctly predicted seven out of the eight Elite 8 teams, three of the four Final 4 teams, and the national champion, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Obviously I will spend my entire life reaching for the Holy March Madness Grail of a perfect bracket, but reasonably speaking I will take my 2009 success every year.

Unfortunately, I tweaked my March Madness bracket picks in 2010 but did not fare quite so well. Let’s put it this way: I picked Kansas to win it all and had Butler losing in the first round. Yeah, not so good.

BUT, despite last year’s downturn, I enter the 2011 bracket picking season undeterred and ready to take another crack at improving my system for completely objective bracket predicting. As usual, I have chosen a set of statistics that I will use to break down each matchup. Based on the results from 2009 and 2010, I have settled on the following seven for this year:

  • Guard Experience: calculated by assigning a value from 1-4 for freshman-senior for every guard who averaged 20 minutes or more per game and is healthy entering the tournament; that sum is then averaged.
  • Potential NBA Players: using the Top 100 NBA Prospects from NBADraftExpress.com, I assigned each team 4 points for having a player in the top 25, 3 points for a player between 26-50, 2 points for a player between 51-75, and 1 point for a player between 76-100. The sum of the points is the team’s value for this category.
  • KenPom rating: the overall team rating based on Ken Pomeroy’s statistical model. (note: I gathered most of the data, and all for the “big conference” teams before conference tournaments started, but for some small school automatic qualifiers, I had to wait until after the tournaments when I knew who the tourney team would be.)
  • Defensive eFG%: this is a KenPom stat that measures field goal percentage, but with the twist that it gives 50% more credit for made three-point field goals (thus valuing the importance of a team’s ability to guard the three-point line, important in tournament play).
  • Defensive Offensive rebounding percentage: this is another KenPom stat, and I realize it probably sounds oxymoronic; what it measures is the percentage of offensive rebounds a team allows when they are defense – just a fancy of assessing what team is better at protecting its own glass and not allowing opportunities for second-chance points.
  • Assist-Turnover ratio: no fancy stats here; just total team assists divided by total team turnovers.
  • Free Throw percentage: again, nothing fancy. Just a team’s FT% for the season.

Those are the Magnificent March Madness 7. If you have followed my picks in the past, you know that in general I look for the following things come tournament time: experienced guard play; teams that protect the ball; teams that make free throws; and teams that are solid on the defensive end of the floor.

Obviously I tweaked things this year with the addition of the KenPom stats for defense and rebounding because I like his methodology for measuring them. And I used his overall rating because its purpose (explained here) is exactly what I’m looking for: “to be purely predictive” and “to show how strong a team would be if it played tonight, independent of injuries or emotional factors.”

Also, the addition of the NBA category is new as well. It occurred to me while sitting down to plan this out that the teams that ultimately cut down the nets often have at least one and often multiple future NBA players on their roster. This is basketball after all, and the team with most talent will win most (I said most!) of the time. I figured this was an important component to incorporate.

Now, as for the methodology of how I make my game-by-game picks, it is as follows: I gather the data for each team and whichever squad wins more of the categories advances (hence the odd number of categories). If one category is a push, it is thrown out. Thus, the possibility exists for ties. Only in these cases do I allow subjectivity to enter my picks. Otherwise, I go straight down the line and let the stats decide. Make sense?

Quick caveat: I know that this system is inherently flawed, so there is no reason to take to the comment section and preach to the choir – although I do welcome constructive opinions about how you think it could be improved. What this system is, I think, is at least a decent attempt at an objective, stats-based predicting system that is reasonable for me to manage in terms of time and research. I’d love to have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to gather data and create a mega-ultra-super-duper-system that accounts for every possible team factor I deem relevant, but that’s not possible. And, anyway, the sad truth is that I’ll end up spending some 8-10 hours doing these picks and my bracket will probably be beaten by some turd sandwich who hasn’t watched a single college basketball game all year. Madness indeed!

Here is the Excel spreadsheet I am working with if you want to see how I set it up and how everything played out.

Here is my official bracket for 2011:

jerod-bracket-picks-2011

I know that you will agree with some of these picks and disagree with some of these picks. And if you’re a Big East fan, apparently you’ll really disagree a few in particular…just look at the comment section. As always, I encourage dissent and opinions different than my own. So use the comment section liberally.

Also, consider putting your “money where your mouth is,” so to speak, by joining our bracket challenge. If you’re going to pick out individual picks and take me to task (and please do!), at least have the stones to present your entire bracket.

Update: Since posting these predictions, I wrote and published this article entitled “Using Advanced Metrics to Separate Contenders from Pretenders in This Year’s Tournament Field” based on the work of Ken Pomeroy and Luke Winn. I am not, I repeat not, changing my bracket based on the analysis I conducted for that article – over 100,000 people have already read my predictions so I’m sticking with them – but I will admit that analyzing the AdjO and AdjD rankings and trends of the past seven years as they relate to NCAA Tournament success has given me a hell of a good idea for how I’m going to tweak my prediction system next year.

So if you want to be fully informed with my thinking, read the predictions below and also check out that article. I wouldn’t have come back to this post to link to it if I didn’t think it was very, very much worth doing so.

Now onto the predictions.

East Region Bracket Predictions

First Round Picks:

  • For #16 seed: Texas-San Antonio over Alabama State
  • For 12 seed: Clemson over UAB

Sorry Mike Davis. You probably didn’t deserve a bid anyway, and I think you’ll go home early. But congrats on a great regular season in C-USA.

Second Round Picks:

  • #1 Ohio State over #16 Texas-San Antonio
  • #9 Villanova over #8 George Mason
  • #4 Kentucky over #13 Princeton
  • #5 West Virginia over #12 Clemson
  • #2 North Carolina over #15 Long Island
  • #10 Georgia over #7 Washington
  • #6 Xavier over #11 Marquette
  • #3 Syracuse over #14 Indiana State

Everyone is picking George Mason over ice cold Villanova, but the Wildcats have an experienced and talented backcourt that I think can lead them out of Round 1. Kentucky-Princeton will be closer than people think. Picking Georgia over Washington makes me nervous, especially when you consider how well Isaiah Thomas has played in tournament situations, but Georgia was a tick better this year on defense and on the glass, so they get the nod. Xavier-Marquette came out at 3-3, so it was a judgment call, and I’m going for Xavier because they are very good on the glass and better defensively than Marquette.

Third Round Picks:

  • #1 Ohio State over #9 Villanova
  • #4 Kentucky over #5 West Virginia
  • #2 North Carolina over #10 Georgia
  • #3 Syracuse over #6 Xavier

Well this is no fun. My system predicts each of the top four seeds to advance. No real explanation needed. The teams were seeded on the top line for a reason, and their ratings back it up and move them on.

Sweet 16 Picks:

  • #1 Ohio State over #4 Kentucky
  • #3 Syracuse over #2 North Carolina

Ohio State gets the nod over a very talented but young Kentucky team because of their guard experience and very high assist/turnover ratio (1.56). Tough draw for Kentucky. They are a good team, but just not good enough to get past Ohio State. Syracuse gets the nod over North Carolina in a very, very close matchup due to their backcourt experience and ability to take care of the basketball.

Elite 8 Picks:

  • #1 Ohio State over #3 Syracuse

The Buckeyes actually came out ahead in six of the seven categories. I felt coming into the tournament that Ohio State was the best team, so it is no surprise that they end up moving on to my Final 4.

West Region Bracket Predictions

Second Round Picks:

  • #1 Duke over #16 Hampton
  • #8 Michigan over #9 Tennessee
  • #4 Texas over #13 Oakland
  • #5 Arizona over #12 Memphis
  • #2 San Diego State over #15 Northern Colorado
  • #7 Temple over #10 Penn State
  • #11 Missouri over #6 Cincinnati
  • #14 Bucknell over #3 UCONN
mike-muscala-march-madness-2011-upset-picks-cinderellas

Bucknell's Mike Muscala

Chalk, chalk, chalk, WHOA! Yes, the West Regional features my biggest upset of the first round: Bucknell over UCONN. Earlier today, I wrote about why Bucknell was a double-digit seed poised to pull an upset, and the system backed me up and predicted it. Now, am I totally confident about them beating a UCONN team that features a bona fide superstar and that just beat five Big East teams in five days? No, not totally. But Bucknell has experience, they have size, and they are tremendous on the boards. And maybe, just maybe, UCONN will be tired and overconfident.

As for Missouri over Cincinnati, the Tigers have had a pretty nice tourney history under Mike Anderson, and I don’t trust the Bearcats, so that upset pick doesn’t worry me at all. One game I am a bit worried about is Texas-Oakland. Rick Barnes does not exactly inspire confidence, and Oakland is a really good team. I would not be surprised at all if Oakland pulls it out, but Texas has been a tremendous defensive team for most of the season, and they are clearly more talented.

Third Round Picks:

  • #1 Duke over #8 Michigan
  • #4 Texas over #5 Arizona
  • #2 San Diego State over #7 Temple
  • #14 Bucknell over #11 Missouri

Texas gets the nod over Arizona because of their talent and ability to force teams into poor shooting percentages. San Diego State is a really good team that I thought had a legit claim at the #1 seed. Oh, and there is Bucknell again. They simply dominate Missouri in every metric but overall KenPom rating and players with NBA potential. They are this year’s Cinderella, getting into the Sweet 16.

Sweet 16 Picks:

  • #1 Duke over #4 Texas
  • #2 San Diego State over #14 Bucknell

No way Rick Barnes beats Coach K. I just can’t see it happening. And with Duke’s experience, they have a clear edge. As for San Diego State and Bucknell, this was actually a 3-3 matchup that came down to a judgment call. It’s tough to pick against Bucknell, as they are clearly the team I’m hitching my bracket wagon to this year, but I went with San Diego State because they are more talented and very good on defense and on the glass. It’ll be a close one though.

Elite 8 Picks:

  • #2 San Diego State over #1 Duke

Surprise! I would not have argued if the committee had chosen San Diego State as a #1 seed over Duke, and this obviously bears that out. San Diego State wins 4-3 here based on their higher assist/TO ratio and slightly better numbers for eFG% and defensive OR%.

Interesting note: if the bracket falls this way, then Duke will play Michigan and former Michigan coach and current SDSU coach Steve Fisher. Seeing as how the Fab 5 movie – which featured a lot of talk about the Fab 5′s Duke hate – debuted right after the ESPN bracket breakdown show, I’d say that’s pretty appropriate.

Southwest Region Bracket Predictions

First Round Picks:

  • For #11 seed: USC over Virginia Commonwealth

When I was preparing to do these picks, I gathered stats for every team that I thought might have a conceivable shot at making the tourney. I did not get stats for VCU. Let that be yet another knock on their legitimacy as a tourney team.

Second Round Picks:

  • #1 Kansas over Boston U
  • #9 Illinois over #8 UNLV
  • #13 Morehead State over #3 Louisville
  • #5 Vanderbilt over #12 Richmond
  • #2 Notre Dame over #15 Akron
  • #7 Texas A&M over #10 Florida State
  • #6 Georgetown over #11 USC
  • #3 Purdue over #14 St. Peter’s

Obviously the Morehead State over Louisville pick jumps out here. I know that Rick Pitino is a good tournament coach, but remember that the Cardinals have overachieved this year with relatively subpar talent. Morehead State, however, has Kenneth Faried, who is a legit NBA prospect. Because of Faried, Morehead State is outstanding on the glass. They also have an experienced backcourt that should be able to deal with battle-tested Louisville.

Texas A&M-Florida State was a 3-3 tie, and I chose the Aggies because of the uncertainty surrounding Chris Singleton’s injury. Illinois was a 5-2 winner over UNLV based on their talent and backcourt. The Illini have been disappointing, but they have the talent to make a tourney run.

Third Round Picks:

  • #1 Kansas over #9 Illinois
  • #5 Vanderbilt over #13 Morehead State
  • #2 Notre Dame over #7 Texas A&M
  • #3 Purdue over #6 Georgetown

Kansas-Illinois is an interesting matchup because of the Bill Self connection. Illinois has the talent to compete with Jayhawks, but I’m glad the stats predict Kansas because I think the Jayhawks are out to avenge last year’s early exit, and Illinois has just been too inconsistent to trust. Vandy gets the nod over Morehead State because they have more NBA talent and do a better job protecting the ball and making their free throws. Purdue is a pretty easy choice over Georgetown, though both teams struggled at the end of the season.

Sweet 16 Picks:

  • #1 Kansas over #5 Vanderbilt
  • #3 Purdue over #2 Notre Dame

Kansas really has a pretty easy road to the Elite 8, all things considered. But then again, no one thought they would lose to Northern Iowa last year, so who knows what an “easy road” really means anyway. The Jayhawks are far superior to Vanderbilt though, so I’d be shocked to see an upset here.

matt-painter-coach-of-the-year-candidateIn the battle for the Hoosier State, Purdue gets the nod over Notre Dame because the Boilers have more talent with E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, and they also have more experience in the backcourt. It’s close to a toss-up though, so I would not be surprised either way. As a native of Indiana, I’d just love to see this matchup.

Elite 8 Picks:

  • #1 Kansas over #3 Purdue

I’ve been pretty impressed with Purdue all season, and have said that they have Final 4 potential. They do, but they better hope someone knocks of Kansas before the Elite 8. The Jayhawks have more talent than Purdue, and the Morris twins would ultimately be the difference in this matchup, propelling Kansas to the Final 4 they should have made last year.

Southeast Regional Bracket Predictions

First Round Picks:

  • For 16 seed: UNC-Asheville over Arkansas-Little Rock

Second Round Picks:

  • #1 Pittsburgh over #16 UNC-Asheville
  • #8 Butler over #9 Old Dominion
  • #4 Wisconsin over #13 Belmont
  • #12 Utah State over #5 Kansas State
  • #2 Florida over #15 UC-Santa Barbara
  • #10 Michigan State over #7 UCLA
  • #11 Gonzaga over #6 St. John’s
  • #3 BYU over #14 Wofford

The Southeast has the potential to wild. I have three lower-seeded teams winning in the first round, and it easily could be five. Butler-ODU was a 3-3 tie, and I chose Butler to right the wrongs of last year – when my system picked the eventual national runner-up Bulldogs to lose in Round 1 (ugh). Plus, I trust Brad Stevens and the Mack-Nored-Howard trio, despite my appreciation for Old Dominion. I really wish these two teams weren’t facing eachother.

Also, Belmont is going to be a popular upset pick over Wisconsin. And it’s not a bad one. But my system rewards taking care of the basketball, making free throws, and rebounding, all things that Wisconsin is very good at. I’m terrified of trusting the Badgers after the egg they laid in the Big 10 Tournament, but I’ve got to trust the stats, so hopefully they and Bo Ryan come through for me.

As for Utah State over Kansas State, I figured this one would be the pick as soon as I saw the matchup during the Selection Show. Utah State is a top 25 team despite their 12 seed, and Kansas State has been up and down all year. Similarly, I think St. John’s is a bit overrated. They did a nice job during Big East play, but they have injury concerns and did not play much of a non-conference schedule. They are also not great on defense (an awful 50.8% defensive eFG%). Mark Few knows how to coach tourney underdogs, and I think Gonzaga gets it done.

Michigan State over UCLA? Yes, I trust Tom Izzo enough to feel comfortable with this pick. The Spartans are terribly inconsistent, but they can beat the Bruins.

Third Round Picks:

  • #1 Pittsburgh over #8 Butler
  • #4 Wisconsin over #12 Utah State
  • #2 Florida over #10 Michigan State
  • #3 BYU over #11 Gonzaga

After some second round craziness, the Southeast bracket settles down in the third round. Butler can definitely beat Pittsburgh, but this is the kind of game where not having a talent like Gordon Heyward will really limit the Bulldogs. Wisconsin-Utah State would be a great matchup, with Jordan Taylor being the difference. Michigan State has not proven they can play consistently, so while I would not be shocked to see them get it together and make a deep run I am happy that Florida was the pick. And BYU, with Jimmer Fredette, overwhelms Gonzaga.

Sweet 16 Picks:

  • #1 Pittsburgh over #4 Wisconsin
  • #3 BYU over #2 Florida

The Pittsburgh-Wisconsin matchup actually ended up as a 3-3 tie. I went with Pittsburgh because a) they are simply a better team overall, and b) I’m terrified the Badgers could get clipped by Belmont in their opening game so I don’t want them going too far. BYU came out as a 6-0 winner over Florida. Granted the stats take into account the games BYU played with Brandon Davies, but the Cougars have the best player on the floor and in tournament time that team wins more often than not.

Elite 8 Picks:

  • #1 Pittsburgh over #3 BYU

And this would be one of those times when the team with the best player does not win. Jamie Dixon and the Panthers can finally get the Final 4 monkey off of their backs because of how well they take care of the basketball and because they are better on D and on the glass than BYU, especially with Davies out.

Final Four Predictions

Final 4 Picks:

  • East #1 Ohio State over West #2 San Diego State
  • Southwest #1 Kansas over Southeast #1 Pittsburgh

San Diego State will be the feel good story of the Final 4, but they just do not have what it takes to compete with the Buckeyes. Ohio State is more talented, better at protecting the ball, and good enough down low to rebound even better than the Aztecs, who are a good rebounding team themselves.

Kansas gets the nod over Pittsburgh based on talent, which helps the Jayhawks to be just a little bit better than the Panthers across the board statistically. Plus, Bill Self has been to the Final 4 before, whereas Dixon and the Panthers will be going for the first time.

2011-ncaa-tournament-bracket-predictions-thad-matta

Thad Matta and the Buckeyes are the #1 overall seed.

Championship Game Pick:

  • Ohio State over Kansas

These are the top two teams heading into the tournament, and it would be fitting if they met in Houston to decide it all.

Ohio State is the pick because they can match up with Kansas’ immense talent, and are better than the Jayhawks in ball protection, making free throws, and rebounding. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Kansas ended up winning, but I think the difference is Jared Sullinger’s ability to control the paint and Jon Diebler’s ability to stretch the floor. With those two, David Lighty, William Buford, and DeShaun Thomas can operate in the middle of the floor and create all kinds of problems for Kansas.

There may be storm clouds forming over the Ohio State football program, but Thad Matta and the basketball Buckeyes will give their fans something to cheer about by bringing home a National Championship.

2011 NCAA Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes

And now, for the third time in this post, I’ll encourage you to join the MSF Bracket Challenge. Whether you like my picks or not, put your bracket to the test and let’s see who (gets luckiest) prognosticates the best!



About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. hey man looking at some of your picks now, they look solid

  2. Jerod's a bit wiser than Seth Davis. No, a lot wiser.

  3. datRueASIAN says:

    i don't really understand why bucknell over UCONN.

    • Well, I'll be honest. If I was just going through and picking, I would take UCONN. But I break each game down by stats and Bucknell just happened to outdo UCONN based on the stats. I hope it works out, but I'm really worried about that pick. Teams that win conference tourneys don't often lose their first round game of the NCAA Tourney. BUT…Bucknell is a very good team, with experience, and a big man who has a good all around game. It's possible. But will they have an answer for Kemba? That's what worries me.

      • The Sports Muse says:

        UCONN should win but you never know if they come out flat after the 5 in 5 (like they did a couple yeaqrs ago against USD, and that wasn't after 5 in 5!). Bucknell has a nice team. Saw them in person early this year aginst Nova. They can shoot from the outsiode, and Cameron Ayers (brother of the former ND kid) is really coming into his own as a freshman…

  4. Great read, it was fun to compare my picks against yours. Only major difference is I see PSU surprising both Temple and SDSU. Going off of gut feel more than the stats on that one!

    • Thanks Ron. Hey, PSU very well could. The only thing that is certain is that none of us has ANY idea what the hell will happen. That's part of why I started doing my picks this way. I can agonize for hours about a single pick…doing it this way makes it much easier – and ultimately, we all know our brackets will be busted by Thursday afternoon anyway! ;-) But hey, who knows, maybe this can be that one magical year…

  5. I feel you always wanting to give Indiana a shot when they are a contending team

  6. Whats a final score guess?

  7. just wondering….did u put in to account where the games are played?…

    • No. As I said above, this system is very much flawed. In fact, I already know one tweak I'm going to make for next year, which is to re-incorporate margin of victory back into it. The thing is, there are probably hundreds of variables and stats that should be accounted for to come out with the best possible system. Since I do everything on my own by hand, I try to keep it simple. The only time I take stuff like game location or other things into account is when the stats come out tied, as a handful of matchups will.

  8. BUCKNELL over Uconn????? You are totally out of your phuckin' mind!!!!!!

    Stick your system up your ass

    • I have to say, that one worries me. If I had been just picking the games off the top of my head, I would have gone with UCONN, but such is the fun and frustration of picking the bracket the way I do. My wagon is hitched to Bucknell. At least I identified them as a potential double digit upset team before the brackets came out; that makes it a little easier to handle. They CAN beat UCONN. But if Kemba Walker has a strong game, but it will be very tough.

  9. Great read, a little surprised you don't factor in the head coach's tournament experience into the equation. That can be a real deciding factor in tight match ups.

  10. how is duke going to lose when irving is coming back

  11. dosmanos says:

    you are dumb really really dumb…why the puck would you have uconn lose first round…theyre at least an sweet 16 team. Teams that win conference tournaments especially one such as the big east are not about to lose to a team such as bucknell. i dont even care that you did this quickly but i really hope you use this bracket cause then you will lose and i can already tell that i dont like you

    • NoMoHoMo says:

      You have honestly lost all accountability by using the phrase "What the puck." Honestly what are you? 4? Just because the UCONN pick was awful doesn't give you the right to use dumb phrases.

    • Well, I appreciate you saying so. Despite how much I want to though, I will not judge you just from an Internet posting.

      As for picking UCONN to lose, make sure you read what I wrote about that game. I did not particularly WANT it to come out that way. But I've picked the bracket this way for three straight years. The first year it worked well. Last year, not so much. We'll see this year. If I were just betting on the UCONN-Bucknell game, without using this system I devised, I'd have picked UCONN. But I don't fudge on the picks once I choose my stats, gather the data, and run the matchups through them. We'll see. UCONN is certainly likely to win, but Bucknell is a pretty damn good team too.

  12. SDSU getting to the final four. ha i have them losing to Penn St. Uconn losing to Bucknell. they are going to the final four or elite eight. Syracuse beating UNC I was thinking Marquette is gonna upset Cuse and at the very least UNC would beat them. Louisville losing first round. if their losing its to kansas or the final four. Lastly Jimmer cant beat Florida and Kansas st. is not losing to Utah st.

    • sorry didnt mean for it to come out that way I don't agree with your picks, but You might be a more upset kind of guy. Gotta live and let live.

      • Haha, no problem man! I love it when people disagree. That's why we're here. I just post to create conversations, and the ones that disagree are the most fun.

    • We shall see man. All of your picks are reasonable. That's the thing – none of us have a clue. I just try to find an objective criteria I can apply to all game, run it through the bracket, and come out with a winner. I'll miss my fair share on the overall bracket, but check back once the Sweet 16 hits and we do game-by-game previews. We get it right 80-85% of the time.

  13. Your picks look pretty damn good! The Bucknell pick kinda shocked me, but after reading what you said and your 3 possible upset page I am really starting to like the pick! Good luck to you and thank you for the help.

  14. Your choice and comment for Louisville losing to Morehead is a joke. The fact that Morehead has an experienced backcourt is supposed to actually be a problem for Louisville? Is that a joke? Did you forget what conference they play in and just finished 3rd regular season and 2nd in the BET? I think they have seen and beat some of the best guards in the country — Morehead is a good team and I would love to cheer for them any other time, but seriously — you need to watch a few more games from this season and apparently study some different stats.

    • Haha. Bet you feel stupid now. This guy is the man.

      • bustedbracket says:

        What excuse do you have now? I'm sure you will come up with some justification on why you should have come out on top. I picked Louisville too and it was a close and great game but maybe this is an ah ha moment for you where you realize that when you talk a bunch of shi*t and then are wrong you look like way more of an a-hole.

  15. I enjoyed reading about all the effort you put into this only to watch people casually say that you suck because your system went against your favorite team.
    One of the things I like about your system is that it takes away our potential for being sucked in by conference tournaments. Every year, teams get hot or slump in the tourney and people over-react…both ways. Everyone forgets the struggles that UConn was having just weeks ago because Kemba Walker played five amazing games. It's just as easy to jump OFF of the UNC bandwagon since they struggled in the ACC Tourney. We have to step back and judge these teams as a whole. Your system does that.

    • That's the goal. Whether it works or not in terms of actually picking the games right is, ultimately, irrelevant. The tourney is so random anyway. Even the most advanced formulas cannot predict it. I just want something that allows me to fill out my bracket and move forward knowing exactly why I picked one team over another. This does that. Works for me.

  16. One thing to possibly consider about your bracket.
    Ever since the one-and-done rule and the era of super freshmen and all that, is it possible to tweak your "Guard Experience" category at all? For instance, I think that guard experience is very important…deeper into the tournament. I didn't think Kentucky could win it all last year. But I knew that their talent could carry them further than previous freshmen-led teams. Their lack of experience eventually killed them against Huggins and West Virginia, but early on in the tourney, it really didn't matter.
    Admittedly, this would be a very minor tweak, but maybe the "Guard Experience" category would be weighted heavier as the tournament goes deeper and deeper.
    Anyway, those are the thoughts of an NBA guy on a college game.

  17. I live in Morehead and as much as I'd like to see them beat Louisville.. I don't see it happening, in my bracket I have them beating Vanderbilt because I wasn't impressed with Vanderbilt when Kentucky smoked them.

    • We shall see. Never know. A handful of the big boys are going to lose to little guys in the first round. Why not Morehead?

      • I grew up close to Morehead but Louisville is my team. I'm really ticked off they have to face each other as I'd love to see an Eastern KY team pull an upset……just not against my Cards! Faried is a beast though!

  18. buckneel over uconn… nope… you should really edit the bicks based on judgement as well as your system

    • Editing the picks based on judgment would defeat the purpose. I only "pick" when the two teams are tied. Bucknell-UCONN went clearly to Bucknell, so that's what I went with. I do tweak from season to season, so we'll see what changes I make between this year and next.

  19. Do you realize that UConn is in the Big East, thus Bucknell having better stats means merely nothing as they play in a mid major. This is one of the most ridiculous picks I have ever seen in comparison to the run UConn just had. UConn being over confident? They will come into that game with some swag on their belt but they will without a doubt play like the winners they had shown to be in Maui and at MSG. I respect your opinion, but it really doesn't make sense to me in retrospect to your rules and all, especially since UConn has Kemba Walker, Oriakhi, Roscoe, Lamb and Napier, all potential future NBA players…

    • Tyler, you make some great points. Just remember that every year there are results in the NCAA Tournament that defy explanation. None of us know where they are coming from, but they are coming. Believe me, I will not be saying "I told you so" if Bucknell wins. I'll consider myself lucky and move on. And yes, the stats are skewed, but they are still representative of the types of teams these two are, and you'd be surprised how often looking at such things can identify games that could be closer than expected.

      Question: if I had predicted Northern Iowa to beat Kansas last year, everyone would have reacted similarly to how UCONN fans here. But I'd have been "right". (Actually, lucky.)

      We'll see. This is what the system said, so I'll go with it, and the system predicted about the number of upsets that we usually see. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

  20. exactly

  21. Great picks. Ignore the haters. You'd probably crush them in an actual March Madness pool.
    Only a few things jump out.
    I really think UConn beats Bucknell. I have them as the top team in their region. They may not make the Final 4, but their better than a Bucknell team that is extremely unproven and plays in a much smaller conference.
    You seem extremely confident in Ohio State, but my individual research leads me to belive that Big 10 conference teams are not as good as others in the tournement. I have them losing before the Elite 8.
    There is one thing you should look at that you didn't seem to.
    Last year, Butler cought almost everyone by surprise. Actually, they were very well matched up. Their overall record was equal to or better than every team they faced. Sadly, overall record is not used as a determining factor in over half of the brackets I've seen.
    Anyway, really nice bracket. Besides the OSU and UConn, your bracket is looking quite alike mine!
    Thanks for backing me up on Utah St. over K St. too.

  22. my final four is Ohio st. duke kansas and Pittsburgh. there is No way that this many big east teams will get out this early such as Uconn, cincinatti, St. john, and louisville. they will all make it to at least the next round.

  23. With Singleton coming back FSU should beat Texas A&m. Also, Bucknell over Uconn is risky but I have Utah State over Pitt in the sweet sixteen (according to my own formula based mostly on freethrows and defensive efg% especially for later rounds). honestly I dont think duke is a final four team this year but if they catch fire they can beat the best of them. and i really disagree with the byu call. they got whooped by sdst in their conf. champ. and without davies i'm affraid wofford could beat them and if not the zags/red storm will surely knock them out with power houses inside. I think that the acc is a dangerous conference to mess with and got undershadowed this year due to the big east which is good but a little overrated due to the fact that they just beat the shit out of each other for 12 straight weeks get to the tourny and can't handle another good team which they have never seen before. Acc has coaching on its side which counts the big east has …. Pitino? thats about it in my book. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this (not what your stats have to say though)

    • Todd, you make great points, no question, although I think you underestimate Calhoun and Boeheim, both tourney-proven coaches. As for FSU, I like them with Singleton, but they are a team ranked 150+ in AdjO. They need to be able to score. Bucknell over UCONN is very risky – and I'm terrified – but I'm rolling with it. As for Duke, I think people underestimate them. They have the best AdjO + AdjD ranking in the nation, which has predicted 5 of the last 7 championships. It's no guarantee, but this is a better team than people realize. I still like SDSU because Steve Fisher is a great tourney coach and the Aztecs have lots of talent, but a Duke repeat would not shock me. As for BYU, they could lose in first round or make Final 4, based on having the best player on the floor in every game, I would not be surprised either way. They are very tough to peg.

      • Calhoun and Boheim are undoubtedly great tournament coaches, and I really don't think the 5 in 5 Uconn just put up will affect their overall tournament fatigue either. The 23 zone of Syracuse is a bitch if your team has never encountered it before, and they play it very well, but I think Xavier has the shooters and quickness of pace to break it and make them "rush" their game into a rebounding and 3 point shooting game. I respect the Bucknell pick and WISH I had the balls to make it, but no matter how much I despise Calhoun I can't help but pick them just for Kemba. I agree with BYU being variable and wofford's size could doom them or any team along the way unless Jimmer scores 52 a game every game ha.

        I really like Utah St. this year and I think that they've proven that they can be a Sweet 16 team, but I'm big on trends and the past two years teams from Utah are 1-8 in the first round … so I'm hesitant. Also Belmont-Wisconsin has me rambling on and on forever and I'm nervous that the Bruins won't beat Wisconsin, but they'll just outscore them in the long run.

  24. Been doing spreadsheets for years… 1 pt for every player that shoots 40% or better from 3pt range (hard to guard); 1 point for each Jr or Sr. A point for each player that averages double digits in scoring (balance). Adjust the records– .75 of home victories + 1.25 of away victories (more indicative of neutral floor)… 1 point for every starter over 6' 9" (front court) and 6' 5' (back court) (you cant teach size). I also factor in rebounding margin and defensive point allowed.

    I also look for obvious mismatches in style… say, a team that averages 18 TOs per game playing a team that plays great D or that likes to press/trap. Finally, I look for a take-over player (usually a guard). Ohio States 2 losses this year are because one player went unconscious and went off for, like, 30 – 35 points– in spite of David Lighty and Aaron Craft, 2 outstanding defenders! THAT is an equalizer. Anyway, thanks for the post and good luck with your picks!

  25. Ha! Moorehead won!! I think some of these aholes that posted comments need to come back on here and take their licks.
    "Your choice and comment for Louisville losing to Morehead is a joke." and "you are dumb really really dumb…why the puck would you have" LMAO! Whose the joke on now, lol

    GREAT JOB JEROD!!

  26. MORE-HEAD! MORE-HEAD! MORE-HEAD!
    great call!
    i used your bracket and i'm currently 4-0.
    nice job.

    • I would like to propose that they just end the tournament right now. We can all take our 4-0 records and go home. Sound good?

      • the only thing i switched, last minute, was the purdue v. nd. boilermakers having that concussion/suspension issue… suspect? we'll see. go ND. either way, i'm currently tied for third in my work pool, bracket challenge. leader has only missed michigan st game. BASTARD!

  27. I won't take a whole lot of credit; ultimately, Morehead made a hell of a shot to win, but it easily could have rimmed out. I think the bigger point is that Louisville-Morehead was never a mismatch based on actual metrics, only in seed and brand name. What Louisville people should take licks for is not respecting their opponent enough. I've missed enough picks in my time that no one needs to put great stock on what I predict – BUT – when the numbers are close as they were in this case, that should be respected.

    • Well, it was a GREAT call on your part for standing by the numbers! I am REALLY anxious to see what happens with Bucknell now :-)

      BTW, I'm at odds which system to use now, this one or the other one based the the AdjO and AdjD. I think that maybe for a head to head match up this system works and for the big picture (final four, championship) perhaps the other system? I mean, technically Louisville had the numbers on the other system to be elite 8 material and Moorehead doesn't, but that doesn't mean when these two match off that one is better than the other, just that one has the potential to make it a certain distance. I don't know though, lol
      Thanks for providing all of these cool calculations/stats!!

      • Absolutely! That's why I'm here. I'm glad others have found this stuff helpful. I just do it because I love it and it's fun, but I'm glad I have this forum to post for others. I will caution you about judging either system – or ANY system – based on a small sample size. Let's see what happens the rest of this weekend and the rest of the tournament, and then even in ensuing years. Predicting this crazy tournament is a very inexact science…I'm just on a never-ending quest to find something that gets it right as often as possible.

      • So about Bucknell… ;-)

        See what I mean about making judgments too early!?

        • LOL, yeah but more of your picks thus far have been right than not.
          Again, thank you for all of these stats/calculations, this is exactly what I was looking for.

          Yeah, in search of the Holy Grail, that perfect bracket :-)

          • Some day! I have to admit, when I was 7-7 early, I started to let my mind wander. What if? Then it all came crashing down as Vandy lost to Richmond.

          • Wow, I have to admit, VCU jumped out of nowhere! Looks like VCU and Richmond are our cindys this year, I don't think we can count Butler as a cindy anymore. Speaking of Butler, what the heck is wrong with Pitt?! I mean they do this EVERY-YEAR! I think my method for picking them next year no matter how high they are ranked/seeded/RPI/stats is to lose in the second round, LOL
            They have been busting my brackets for years now.

  28. so do sdsu and pittsburg both lost the semi finals ??

  29. Why's u decide you decide to pick Vanderbilt over Richmond anyway? not judging or anything. I picked Richmond, i just had a gut feeling they were gonna pull through.

    • Well Rob, I'd refer you to the first 1,000 words of this post and the spreadsheet that is linked. I spelled out my methodology. Vandy came out on top so I picked them, no reason other than that. It was a close game and Richmond made the plays with a great veteran guard. Not surprising at all. It was a tough game to pick.

  30. "Tough draw for Kentucky. They are a good team, but just not good enough to get past Ohio State." That one kinda messed up your bracket, huh?

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